30 years on: Ruf's 2017 CTR Yellowbird

Marking three decades of the original 1987 Yellowbird Porsche comes the all-carbonfibre monocoque twin-turbo 2017 Ruf CTR

30 years on: Ruf's 2017 CTR Yellowbird

Hatched at Geneva in 2017, the newest incarnation of the Yellowbird CTR bears very little resemblance under the skin to its predecessors, save perhaps the CTR3 whose subframe engine cradle and horizontally-mounted suspension dampers it partly replicates. It has yet to be offered to the press or customers for review, but observing the second chassis in-build at Pfaffenhausen is instructive.

It's certainly nothing if not radical. The intention was to recreate the whole Yellowbird philosophy in a modern way, based on a central monocoque with built-in rollcage and front and rear subframes carrying powertrain and suspension running gear, clad with carbonfibre body panels.

The 2017 CTR Yellowbird takes pride of place in the showroom, while a second car is under construction in the workshop. The chassis is a carbon monocoque with carbon skin, and the front and rear wings, doors and lids are in carbonfibre. The rear subframe serves to cradle the engine, a water-cooled twin-turbo 3.6 flat-six, and at the front are three water radiators; the oil is cooled via a heat exchanger. It has horizontal inboard springs and damper units, operated by pushrods.

How does Ruf comply with TüV approval? ‘Fortunately,’ company founder Alois Ruf tells us, ‘we don’t have to crash a car because we are a small volume manufacturer, so the virtual crash on the computer is sufficient, together with all the engineering work and the calculations, and that is expensive enough.’

The 2017 CTR encapsulates the latest concepts in race car design, rendered roadable, yet ostensibly it recalls an early ’90s 911.

‘The main idea is to bring back the feeling of the original Yellowbird from 1987,' says Alois, 'which was the first car that didn’t have rain gutters, so of course we have this feature in the 2017 car.’

‘The main idea is to bring back the feeling of the original Yellowbird from 1987, which was the first car that didn’t have rain gutters, so of course we have this feature in the 2017 car.’

There’s a pair of NACA ducts either side of the rear wings below the three-quarter windows – familiar from other Rufs like the RCT, though more dynamically configured, while slats in the rear bumper panel recall the Yellowbird too.

Back in the showroom we contemplate the Yellowbird show car. Look carefully at the door, and it’s about 30mm wider than a regular 911. In fact, the whole side of the car has expanded, with the headlamps 20mm further outwards than they would be on a 964.

The wheels are 19in Ruf alloys shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, 245/35 ZR 19 on the front and 305/30 19s on the back. The wheelbase is 70mm longer than the 993 – the same as a 997 wheelbase – achieved by moving the rear axle back by 50mm. ‘So, we have 5cm more bodywork ahead of the rear wheelarch, and 5cm less behind the rear wheelarch, and 7cm behind the front wheelarch – and the eye doesn’t catch it is because the car has a longer door. Let’s say the shape of the good old 911, the car that we love so much, just went into another evolution, but without becoming bulky like the 991s are today.’

The brawny 2017 CTR’s biceps sport other details too, like the flush door handles and oil filler in the right-hand rear wing. The headlamps are an entirely new design with LED technology, and so are the turn signals and the tail lights. ‘Another subtle difference is that the tail lights are 40mm larger, and we moved the whole fender outwards so it doesn’t project such a huge arch.’

Lots to take in, then, and it’s all so calculated with nothing left to chance. Every year Ruf comes up with a masterpiece, and this new Yellowbird is no exception.